This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, August 23, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.
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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: I’m going to go to the ups and downs.
DOWN: California Governor Gray Davis
BARNES: With his job approval ratings continuing to free-fall, Davis makes the political equivalent of a Hail Mary, blaming the recall effort as a Republican plot to steal elections. Here's Davis Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: What's happening here is part of an ongoing national effort to steal elections Republicans cannot win. It started with the impeachment of President Clinton (search), when the Republicans could not beat him in 1996. It continued in Florida, where they stopped the vote count. Now they're trying to use this recall to seize control of California just before the next presidential election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: What a crock! I mean...
JUAN WILLIAMS, GUEST CO-HOST: Wow.
BARNES: ... conspiracy theories like that are the last refuge of losers. And I think he's going to be loser there. I think this whole conspiracy theory started with Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic national chairman, who has become the Oliver Stone (search) of American politics.
WILLIAMS: Well, let me just quickly say that I think Gray Davis (search) is using the only tactic that can hopefully get him...out of this recall situation, because he's trying to stir the left-wing base and make it the problem's not Gray Davis, the problem is Republicans. That's his last hope.
DOWN: Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas
WILLIAMS: Tuesday's suicide bombing in Jerusalem, the second major attack since the so-called cease-fire, further undermines Abbas's credibility as a partner for Middle East peace, Fred.
I think this is a real problem, not only for Abbas. I would say, given that the U.S. has invested so much in Abbas as an alternative to Arafat, it's a problem for American foreign policy, a problem for the road map.
And you know what? Some people say it's not a problem or Israel. Big problem for Israel, because I think right now, all that you're getting from Prime Minister Sharon is really payback. And he's not going after the Hamas leaders, et cetera. And it looks to me like all the peace plans, all the effort, all the investment of time and money from the United States, at this point, looks like it's gone to waste.
BARNES: Yes, no, I think you're right. Now, I was disappointed that Colin Powell, the secretary of state, tacitly acknowledged that Yasser Arafat may still be the main man when he made a plea for Arafat to come and help out Abbas in cracking down on these Palestinian terrorist groups. I mean, they hadn't even mentioned Arafat's name for a long time.
Now they're acknowledging that he's still the big power there.
WILLIAMS: Well, I don't think…I don't think...
BARNES: I think that's going to…
WILLIAMS: ... Abbas controls Hamas, and that's the problem...
WILLIAMS: ... and therefore, you got a place...
WILLIAMS: ... of somebody who could possibly put a finger...
WILLIAMS: ... in this and say, Listen, stop.
BARNES: Yes, but Arafat said no. All right.
DOWN: The Patriot Act
BARNES: Under fire from three states and over 150 communities, Attorney General John Ashcroft (search) goes on the road to defend the USA Patriot Act (search). Ashcroft says the law led to numerous terror arrests, but others say it undermines both the Constitution and civil liberties.
Here's Ashcroft making the case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: A two-to-one majority of Americans believe the Patriot Act is necessary and an effective tool that protects liberty because it targets terrorists. Ninety-one percent of Americans understand that the Patriot Act has not affected their civil rights or the civil rights of their families.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: I think the attorney general got a win recently on the Patriot Act when he used shared information, something you couldn't have done before the Patriot Act, to arrest this man, this British citizen, who was trying to sell shoulder-mounted missiles...
WILLIAMS: ... that would take on American aircraft. So that was a big one.
The problem is, you know what? Not all conservatives are with the attorney general. You think of Bob Barr, you think of Eagle Forum and some others who are saying...
BARNES: Yes, yes.
WILLIAMS: ... You know what? Barr is using the threat of terrorism...to really grow the government. Conservatives don't like big government.
WILLIAMS: And also, as a point of invasion into our privacy.
BARNES: Yes. He's wrong, he's dumb. I mean, there are some dumb conservatives, you know, particularly on that issue. And the truth is, there's a tradeoff between cracking down on terrorists and maybe some limitations of civil liberties, to very, very, few people, including some…a number who are not citizens. It's a trade worth making.
WILLIAMS: Well, I'm telling you, that's why he has to get out there like the, you know, salesman that he is. Right now, trying to sell the Patriot Act, it's a surprise.
DOWN: Alabama chief Roy Moore
WILLIAMS: He loses his crusade to keep a monument to the Ten Commandments in a government facility, the Alabama Judicial Building. Neither the U.S. Supreme Court nor his eight fellow Alabama Supreme Court justices are backing Moore.
BARNES: Yes, you know, normally, I support religious expressions in the public square...
WILLIAMS: Me too.
BARNES: ... I think, I think they're perfectly fitting. But in this case, this judge acted unilaterally. He didn't get the other eight justices of Alabama Supreme Court approval, he just put this monument in there with the Ten Commandments on it. And there is a secular argument you could use, say, Look, the Ten Commandments have…are the basis of law in Western civilization, and so on. But that's a secular argument, he won't use it.
So I think they're going to be gone.
WILLIAMS: Right, it's 17 to nothing, the Supreme Court and his fellow justices in Alabama. I don't see…I mean, you know, look...
WILLIAMS: ... faith is a good thing...
WILLIAMS: ... but he has to understand that it does have a place in a secular democratic society.
BARNES: Right. All right.
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